The Link Between Vertigo and Alcohol Consumption


Vertigo and alcohol use seem to go hand in hand. That is why we are going to discuss what vertigo is, why alcohol can increase the effects of this symptom, and what you can do to lessen the effects of vertigo. 

What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation that you or the room around you is moving in a way that it is not. You may feel like things are tilting, swaying, spinning, or shifting in some other way. When vertigo is severe, it can cause nausea and vomiting because even closing your eyes and laying down may not stop the false sensation that you are moving. 

Keep in mind that vertigo is a symptom of various conditions, and it is not a health condition on its own, so you should always be looking for the underlying cause of vertigo. There are also attack triggers, and this is where vertigo and alcohol begin to conflict. 

Vertigo and Alcohol: What's the Connection?

So, is there really a connection between vertigo and alcohol consumption? Studies note that even a little alcohol may be too much for someone who frequently experiences balance problem. Here are some of the things that can occur once you go past your limit:

  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Slower breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Vertigo

Other studies that investigate the link between vertigo and alcohol note that excessive intake can impede normal function of the organs of balance. Additionally, too much alcohol intake can result in dehydration, another factor that can impact balance.

Of course, there can be much more severe repercussions if a person has even more to drink. In fact, a person can also pass out and die from blood alcohol poisoning. However, for now, let’s focus on the reason that overindulging in alcohol triggers vertigo in the first place. 

How Alcohol Affects the Inner Ear 

There are two keys parts of the body that come into play when understanding the link between vertigo and alcohol: the ears and the brain. How does alcohol affect the inner ear, which is responsible for sending signals about balance and spatial awareness to the brain? 

The inner ear is made up of three tiny canals. Fluid, crystals, and tiny hairs, all of which help determine the position of your body regarding your surroundings, fill these canals. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body. This can reduce the amount of fluid in the ears. It can also affect one ear more than the other and lead to an unbalanced amount of fluid. Ultimately, this can result in the ears sending the wrong signals or conflicting signals to the brain. Vertigo may be the result. 

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Alcohol impacts the brain by messing with neurotransmitter pathways that allow the neurons to pass signals rapidly. When anything interferes with these pathways, the brain may no longer process the information coming from the ears in the correct manner. The brainstem, in particular, is affected. As a result, vertigo and alcohol consumption often comes hand in hand. 

What to Do if You Get Vertigo 

One of the first things you should do is stop drinking, at least until you can find and correct the underlying cause of vertigo. For most people, this is a mere inconvenience, but if you also have an alcohol dependency, you may need to get assistance to stay away from alcohol. In this case, it is wise to continue avoiding alcohol even after you discover and correct your underlying vertigo cause. 

What Are Some Possible Underlying Causes of Vertigo?

Besides the connection between vertigo and alcohol consumption, here are some of the key things that can affect the organs of balance: 

  • BPPV – Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo refers to a condition wherein vertigo is triggered by certain positions or movements of the head. 
  • Meniere’s disease – This condition is usually related to abnormal fluid buildup in one ear. The results are vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), a feeling of fullness in the affected ear, and partial hearing loss. While alcohol dehydrates a person and reduced fluid in the body, it’s not something you want to do with this condition. It can actually make matters worse if it reduces fluid levels in the good ear and not the one with extra fluid. 
  • Upper cervical misalignment – Remember that the two locations that vertigo stems from are the ears and the brain. Upper cervical misalignments can affect both. The atlas (C1 vertebra) surrounds the brainstem, so even the slightest misalignment can have an effect on proper brainstem function. This can impact how the brain perceives messages from the ears about balance and spatial orientation. Misalignments can also impact ear function by changing how the Eustachian tubes drain excess fluid away from the ears. 

What Other Things Can Worsen or Trigger a Vertigo Episode?

Vertigo is a common problem that can affect anyone. It’s usually caused by an imbalance in your inner ear that causes the signals sent from that part of your body to your brain to be unclear or messed up. This means that your brain isn't getting accurate information about how fast you're moving and what direction you're facing.When it comes to vertigo, there are a number of factors that can cause your symptoms to last longer than usual.

#1. The root cause

Besides looking into the connection between vertigo and alcohol consumption, it's equally important to look at other triggers or root causes. Notably, vertigo can stem from various things including labyrinthitis and BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). It’s crucial to look into the root cause because some conditions be milder or less severe than other.

#2. Age

If you're younger than 50 years old, then your episodes may last longer than those experienced by older adults.

#3. Gender

Women tend to experience more frequent bouts of dizziness than men. However, males tend to experience longer periods with symptoms compared with females who have similar episodes.

#4. Stress levels

Chronic stress can increase the frequency and duration of vertigo attacks, as it affects the central nervous system and can disrupt the delicate balance between the inner ear, eyes, and brain.

#5. Lifestyle habits

A sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and lack of sleep can all contribute to vertigo symptoms and make them last longer. On the other hand, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can help improve symptoms and reduce the duration of vertigo attacks.

#6. Medications

Certain medications, especially those used to treat high blood pressure and depression, can cause vertigo as a side effect and make episodes last longer. If this is the case, adjusting medication or finding alternative treatments may be necessary.

#7. Previous head and neck injuries

Besides vertigo and alcohol, another crucial factor connection you must look into is your spinning sensations and previous head and neck injuries. Do you have a history of concussions or whiplash? Have you experienced falling off a horse or getting injured in the neck while in a rollercoaster ride? During your younger years, were you bullied and did you sustain neck injuries from falling or slipping? Whatever type of neck or head injuries you had in the past, and no matter how serious or simple they seemed, it’s worth it to look into Upper Cervical Spine misalignments. With the help of a Cervical Chiropractor near you, you can determine if you may need to receive chiropractic adjustments to your C1 and C2 neck bones.

How Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Relieve Vertigo? 

So far, we have primarily focused on vertigo and alcohol and the lifestyle changes that can reduce how often your episodes occur. However, we would now like to focus on a natural way to get to the heart of the issue. If the underlying problem is an upper cervical misalignment, then a specific form of chiropractic may be just what you need to find long-lasting relief.

Upper cervical chiropractors begin by taking precise measurements of the top two bones in the neck by means of diagnostic imaging. This allows the practitioner to calculate a precise and gentle adjustment for each patient. For some vertigo patients, this has corrected the primary underlying issue and led to relief. It makes sense to give this natural therapy a try, especially if you have a history of head or neck injury. To learn more, contact an upper cervical specific chiropractor in your area and schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.